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Vidcon Asia Q&A with Sadaf Zarrar on how Coke Studio is bringing the brand's value to life

By Amy Bryant | Vidcon Asia

November 20, 2019 | 8 min read

VidCon Asia spoke with Coca-Cola’s Sadaf Zarrar about why creating content that is authentic and relatable is crucial, and how the company is taking innovative approaches to video marketing.

Coke Studio

Can you explain a bit more about how Coke Studio operates?

Coke Studio is designed to bring Coca-Cola’s values to life. It is a music platform where live collaborative recordings occur. It aims to bridge barriers by using music as a platform to bring people together from different backgrounds, and create content that everyone can enjoy. The final output is around 20 unique songs produced each year. It brings together a range of artists who wouldn’t usually collaborate together, which results in offering consumers content that they would not normally see on any other platform.

Can you tell us a bit more about your role and a highlight you are most proud of?

I look after The Coca-Cola Company’s consumer-facing marketing content across media touchpoints for the ASEAN region. My journey with Coca-Cola is now in its third chapter. Initially, I looked after the Coca-Cola Trademark in Pakistan, before moving on to head Integrated Marketing Content for the Pakistan and Afghanistan region. I have recently joined as the head of Integrated Content and Creative Excellence for the ASEAN view. It is the same playing field but with different specialisations each time around.

Pakistan becoming one of the largest growth markets for the Coca-Cola brand is a transformational story that happened within the span of a decade in one of the few markets where Coke didn’t dominate until a few years ago. The change came about by activating various youth platforms. Now it’s currently the most loved youth brand in Pakistan. The achievement speaks to how well we activated the portfolio over there, and I’m proud to have been part of that journey.

How has Coca-Cola incorporated video into marketing initiatives?

At Coca-Cola we follow a simple principle called 70-20-10. Every campaign that we create follows this, with 70% dedicated to what we already know, 20% to what we are experimenting with, and 10% to what we have never done before.

With this, we have seen video integrate very seamlessly into the Coca-Cola communication strategy. The 70-20-10 formula automatically brings innovation into our development phases. Our video journey didn’t happen overnight, but seamlessly seeped into how we do things over here.

We understand that digital is changing at a very fast pace and Coca-Cola has been very open to collaborating with new platforms. We force ourselves to put things out there, learn, then improve and reapply. We now understand that consumers appreciate intent, relevance and contextual content, based on the way we’ve seen them positively respond.

How do you approach today’s digitally-led world and are there any particular Coca-Cola video campaigns that have stood out for you in this space?

One of the biggest learnings for me personally has been understanding that digital success does not look like a traditional campaign’s success. It’s the smaller successes that have greater impact and the key is to be fast on your feet.

As for specific campaigns, we have done a lot of digitally-led work on Fanta. There was a campaign that focused on the fruit, where young people came in and tried to guess what variety of Fanta they were drinking. That generated a lot of talkability. We have many campaigns that survive even without television, which is something that has never really happened in traditional marketing before.

My other personal favourites across the ASEAN region lately are Pride Philippines and the work done on Singapore Summit, which was contextually relevant and embodied the brand’s point of view.

You are the founder of the fashion and lifestyle blog Siddy Says. Can you tell me about your motivations for creating the site?

Siddy Says started in 2011 in a time when blogging was just taking off. The motivation was less as a content creator and more as a marketer. I was realising that highly branded content was becoming less relevant compared to third party content, which is now a very key part of the marketing mix. I wanted to see how platforms evolve and understand the ecosystem as a marketer. From it, I’ve been able to experience first hand the content creator and influencer side of things and empathise with their perspective.

With Siddy Says, I’ve learnt the kind of content people actually want to see. As a marketer you are attuned to seeing what’s good for your brand. But as a content creator you are forced to think about what is actually going to be read.

My learning is that the more authentic and real you are, the better it is for you. No longer are people looking for the perfect solution for the perfect world. That is the kind of engagement marketers are looking for and I think just being able to stay connected first hand with the audience helps me grow professionally also.

What’s the magic formula to a successful Siddy Says video?

The second you are honest and real, people will respond positively. So creating content that has authenticity is key.

It’s interesting because I come from a generation where people like to see things performed perfectly. For example, television commercials which require investment and are produced to the dot, however when I look at platforms like Snapchat and TikTok, I see that the younger people today have a very unique approach to content.

We’re in a highly shareable world that doesn’t focus on perfection, and despite the debate on the pressures social media creates, people are embracing a level of reality that my generation never did.

In a nutshell, that is SiddySays today – to be loudly and proudly yourself and encouraging other women to do the same. It is a very relevant insight for female readers and viewers back home.

Can you tell us what you will you be talking about at VidCon Asia Summit?

I will be talking about Coke Studio, one of Coca-Cola’s largest music assets. It’s our approach to creating commercial content in a digital age, where consumers have much more choice and don’t watch what’s thrown their way. So I will be presenting about how Coke Studio has become a platform that has broken the barrier, creating content that people genuinely look forward to.

This content was first published by VidCon Asia Summit ahead of the event that takes place in Singapore on December 3 and 4. Visit for the full programme and tickets. The Drum readers get 20% off with promo code THEDRUM20.

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